Sargon Chess (1981) (Hayden Software)
The Sorcerer was one of the early home computer systems, released in 1978 by the videogame company, Exidy. It was comparatively advanced when released, especially when compared to the contemporary more commercially oriented Commodore PET and TRS-80, but due to a number of problems including a lack of marketing, the machine remained relatively unknown. Exidy eventually pulled it from the market in 1980, and today they are a coveted collector's item.
Identifier Sargon_Chess_Sorcerer_1981Date 1981Mediatype softwareYear 1981Publicdate 2013-10-20 12:34:19Addeddate 2013-10-20 12:34:19Filesxml Mon Oct 21 0:17:18 UTC 2013Emulator sorcererEmulator_ext snpLanguage English
The Sorcerer was first launched in April 1978 at the PERCOMP convention in Long Beach, California at a price of US$895. The expansion systems and drives were released at the same time. Shipments did not start until later that summer. However, the machine never sold well in the US, likely due to the introduction of newer machines like the Atari 800 that offered many more features (including color graphics and sound) and directly supported television sets for output, reducing overall system costs.
Exidy tired of the effort quickly. In 1979 the company sold the rights to the design to Dynasty Computer Corp. of Dallas, Texas. They made minor updates and re-released it as the "Dynasty smart-ALEC".
Sargon (or SARGON) is a line of chess-playing software for personal computers. SARGON was introduced at the 1978 West Coast Computer Faire, where it won the first computer chess tournament held strictly for microcomputers. This success encouraged the authors to seek financial income by selling the program directly to customers. Since magnetic media were not widely available at the time, the authors placed an advert in Byte Magazine and mailed $15 photocopied listings that would work in any Z80-based microcomputer. Availability of the source code allowed porting to other machines. For example, the March–April 1979 issue of Recreational Computing describes a project that converted Sargon to an 8080 program by using macros. Later the Spracklens were contacted by Hayden Books and a book was published.
When magnetic media publishing became widely available, a Navy Petty Officer, Paul Lohnes, ported Sargon to the TRS-80, altering both graphics, input, and housekeeping routines leaving the Spracklen's chess-playing algorithm intact. Paul consulted with the Spracklens, both living in San Diego at the time, to make the TRS-80 an instant success with the help of Hayden Book's newly established software division: Hayden Software. Paul was not involved in further refinements to the TRS-80 version due to his reassignment to sea duty shortly after signing the deal with Hayden Software. In the early 1980s SARGON CHESS was ported to several earlier microcomputers, i.e. NASCOM (by Bits & PCs, 1981), Exidy Sorcerer, Sharp MZ 80K, and many others.